Sunday, 23 December 2012

10,000 UP

Yeh, the 10,000th visitor has just read this blog. Thank you everyone of you who has checked in for a look. That makes it all worthwhile. It is good to share experiences and news, and it's good fun.

Meanwhile, the other day while sitting on the veranda  I was thinking that I hadn't seen any sparrowhawks, or evidence of their kills, in the garden yet this post-breeding season. And what happened yesterday while I was out talking to the chickens, a beautiful hen Collared Sparrowhawk came swinging in through the shrubbery, over the chickens' heads and grabbed a House Sparrow. She then flipped over and into the neighbours' garden where she mantled her prey.

She stood there for a few minutes with the sparrow in her grasp, ensuring that it was definitely dead before she began to pluck it. Never releasing her grip all that time, she clearly held it tight in a constricting hold, so that it died of suffocation.

She was a stunning full adult, with a slate-blue back and head, rich red collar and belly stripes. The females usually take larger prey  such as Starlings or Common Mynas, and the smaller males take the sparrows and wrens. But, now she knows the sparrows are around the chicken house, where there are always food scraps, she will be back. And others will pass through too I'm sure.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Silk Tree

The weather is hotting up for summer now, so I am spending more time around the house. And when coming home yesterday I noticed that our Silk Tree Albizia is now not only escaping out of the back yard but seems to want to come into the front door.

Having spread its branches through the fence, it is now reaching over to the doorstep, but we like it, so it is welcome. These trees grow to fifteen metres or so in height up in Queensland, where there are native species. But here in Canberra they are not native and pretty rare. Our one came with the house when we moved in and it is a bit bonsai-ed as it is growing in  a walled section on the patio.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Backyard Chickens

We keep a small flock of chickens in the back yard, partly for eggs and partly as pets. However, I also use them for foraging behaviour experiments, and as they are all individual, this makes it easy to make good observations. here is a selection of portraits of the current flock members, they are all bantams.
Hiver, a white Silkie
Teal, a Pekin
Hermione, another Pekin
Thompson, with a P, her twin Thomson, without a P, looks identical but isn't.
They are Plymouth Rocks - very swift afoot

Nancy, a new young Wyandotte
Chalk and Cheese, the two new young Light Sussex twins
Islay, a young buff Silkie

Islay,  close up of her face

A good bath

There is nothing like a good bath for a girl to feel and look good

Hiver in her dust bath, looking a bit grubby
Really getting into it, dirt flying all over the place

Hiver all dry and fluffy after her bath
Doesn't she look good now!

Friday, 14 December 2012

More book reviews

There have recently been a couple more reviews of my book Eagle Days including one in the Scotland on Sunday photographed below.

And another in the BBC Wildllife Magazine saying,

  'captures the experience of following a truly wild bird wonderfully, and plenty of other wildlife is seen in the pursuit. This stimulating book will make readers want to head for the Highlands themselves.' Derek Niemann.

All the reviews have been favorable and I find it interesting to see the different topics and aspects which the reviewers have caught onto and chosen to highlight. I deliberately wrote the book with a weaving text, integrating the life of eagles as much as they are themselves integrated with the Scottish Highlands and all they encompass. We all see things differently. If only we all cared for eagles.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Cover shot

The recent edition of the Australian Field Ornithologist has used one of my images for the cover shot. The bird featured is a White-faced Robin Tegellasia leucops, and together with another shot in the main text it illustrates a species whose display behaviour is described in an article by John Rawsthorne and Richard Donaghey. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Double Pink feeding her chick

Double Pink is a very well marked bird, and those markings
 blend in so well with the woodland background
The colour-banded Tawny Frogmouth, Double-Pink, which was rescued and successfully released back to the wild by the RSPCA, and her partner have lost one chick. It probably fell from the nest - they are terrible fidgets those young frogmouths - and then scavenged by a Red Fox, which is a common feral predator in the Canberra area.

However, the good news is that they still have one chick, it is fit, healthy and almost ready to fledge. Click on the link below to watch her at the nest with her chick.